New Tech students tackle real-world problems

Students identify a problem facing individuals or communities and an innovative solution to help solve it

Chloe Johnson, Napa Valley Register
Published on August 20, 2015

The first three days at New Technology High School were not about stocking up on textbooks. Instead, students at this small, publicly-funded Napa magnet school got the chance to design a tool or program that could help people solve problems in the real world.

New Tech’s 415 students were divided into 11 groups, and each was challenged to tackle a different local, national, or global problem. On Wednesday, students presented their ideas to their classmates in the school’s auditorium.

The school’s new principal, Riley Johnson, and teacher Tom Wolf decided to start the school year with this project after they took a course in “design thinking,” a kind of learning that encourages student participation and problem solving, at Stanford’s Design School over the summer break.

Peg Maddocks of the group Napa Learns, which funds magnet schools in Napa County, said that she wants to see more of these types of projects at all grade levels and in all Napa public schools.
“Teachers used to tell kids what to do,” Maddocks said. “With project-based learning, the kids answer the questions.”

Read the complete article